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Lawn & Grass Care in Central Texas

 

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Lawn & Grass Care in Central Texas

It’s that time of year where the days are getting cooler and maybe you’re looking outside thinking ‘I give up on this grass!’  Well, don’t give up just yet, you CAN save it!

Last year we were in the same boat but with a little bit of work, we turned brown, nearly dead grass into a lush green yard (and it stayed green all summer long!).  Here are some tips that really helped us:

  • First and foremost, stay on top of those weeds y’all!  And use your hands and hand-tools, not poison!  You must grab those weeds and pull them out, roots & all.  I think weed patrolling every 3 weeks should serve you pretty well.  If you go too long, the weeds take over and you’ll damn near get carpal tunnel trying to pull them all out in one day.  But, it’s worth it, trust me.  And one day, when your grass is super dense, weeds won’t grow so much at all.
  • Maybe you have some freshly-laid sod and it’s not really “taking” and rooting into the underlying dirt.  Aerate that soil.  You can get a small tool similar to this one http://www.amazon.com/Alterra-Tools-SGA3-Garden-Aerator/dp/B00CU9QDN2/ref=lp_3480687011_1_13?s=lawn-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1413650349&sr=1-13  they also have cleat-like attachments to your shoes you could try out while mowing your lawn.  2 birds with one stone!
  • When you mow, leave that grass at least 4 inches long.  We leave our mower on the max. setting.  A lot of people like to scalp their grass to get that tight crew-cut look of the 1950’s, but let me remind you, we’re in a drought and that Texas-hot sun is a grass killer!
  • Sprinkle sprinkle that compost all over those dead-looking patches (and even in the non-troubled areas for extra credit).  Do it now and again in early-to-mid-February.  My favorite is Lady Bug Revitalizer Compost.  If the patches are too barren, consider some new sod or planting seeds.
  • Try to water early morning and early evening to avoid sun-magnification-resulting-in-burning-of-grass.  A nice, deep, long watering can do wonders, depending on your grass type.
  • You may find grass just won’t grow close to the base of a tree or in the shade.  Consider alternative uses for that space (e.g. mulching, rock-gardening, storage, shade-friendly plants or a planter box/pot).
  • If your yard has more serious problems to tackle, the Natural Gardener (http://www.naturalgardeneraustin.com) is a really wonderful resource.  Not only is their staff incredibly knowledgeable and helpful, but their website is amazing.
  • Here are some sweet links from the Natural Gardener on lawn care and watering:  http://www.naturalgardeneraustin.com/images/stories/content_images/media_center/info_sheets/lawn_care_guide.pdf http://www.naturalgardeneraustin.com/images/stories/content_images/media_center/info_sheets/lawn_watering_guide.pdf  and of course your monthly to-do lists: http://www.naturalgardeneraustin.com/what-to-do-in-October.html
  • One last thing, every homeowner needs organic ant killer!

This is the time of year where you can make great progress on your outdoor projects without getting a heat stroke.  Get out there and make yourself proud.

Texans Competing in Sochi

 

US of Texas

 

 

 

Looking for Texas athletes in this year’s winter olympics? You might be surprised just how well represented we are in Sochi!

If there’s one thing Texans know, it’s speed skating. Of course I’m kidding but whether tuning into the speed skating long or short track events,  you’ll find a Texan! Find Jonathan Garcia (Katy native) tearing it up on the Long Track and Denton’s own Jordan Malone flying through the Short Track.

Crave a bit of danger in your olympic watching? Check out this year’s Bobsled events featuring a few more Lone Star athletes. Running in both the 2 man and 4 man events are San Antonio’s Justin Olsen & McKinney’s Johnny Quinn.

Maybe Bobsled isn’t your thing, or perhaps you think the Luge should be raced head first, well you are in luck! Racing again in the Skeleton event (you know, luge but head first) is Katie Uhlaender (McGregor). Katie is one of the rock stars of this Olympics and though she currently claims McDonald, Kansas as home, we know she’s Texan through and through!

And though they aren’t skating for the Red White & Blue, there’s a few more Texans to keep your eyes peeled for. The Dallas Stars are sending several players to Sochi this year including shut down goal keeper Kari Lehtonen, captain Jamie Benn and 18 year old rookie Valeri Nichushkin. Find Kari tending the net for Team Finland, Jamie wracking up points for the gold medal defending and this year’s favorite Team Canada and our wonder kid Valeri wreaking havoc for the motherland, Team Russia.

So as you settle in to watch the spectacle, raise your cup of hot cider in support of the great ole U.S. of A. and most of all, let’s support Texas!

What Does Every Home Owner Want To Know?

canstockphoto14215561Time and again, I’m asked the one question home owners want to know most, “what did my neighbor’s home sell for?”

Real Estate In ATX is proud to now offer Market Snapshot to answer that very question with a free monthly report, custom fit to your home. It’s easy to sign up for and you don’t have to talk to anyone to get the info!   Sign up today and share with your friends. Help them find the answer the question everyone is asking!

VisitATXHomeReports.com to sign up for your report now.

 

Of course if you are preparing to sell your home, call me and we’ll start building the right strategy for you.

 

 

Forecasting 2014: “Nothing Much New Here”

Population Growth vs New Units Added
After attending a series of panels and seminars focused on the economic forecast for the Austin metro area, it appears 2014 is shaping up to be more of the same. With every major stat tracking toward the positive other than inventory, it feels as if there’s “nothing much new here” to report. Still, let’s try!
TRENDS

2013 finally brought a gentle rise in interest rates, something we’ve all been warned about for years. As the Fed just began tapering debt purchases within the past couple of weeks, it seems we’ve already seen the largest jump in interest rates. Though we will see continued increases in interest rates, often forecasted between 4.75-5.5% throughout the year, and considering rates first dipped into the upper fives in 2003, historically speaking, mortgages are still cheap and likely will be for some time.

Surely it’s no surprise that home values are also up. With only two of ABOR’s MLS areas not reporting positive changes in the median sold price, the Austin Board of Realtors also reported a 9.6% increase in the median as well as a 7.6% increase in the average prices for the entire MLS area. Those numbers, for the entire MLS area, ranging from northern Williamson County south through Hays County and including Bastrop and Caldwell counties, are $219k for the median and $284k for the average.

Supply continues to be historically low. A quick glance at the graph above shows one of the major obstacles local home buyers and Realtors alike face. The red line represents population growth while the green represents total “new” units added for the calendar year. If (on average) every 2.5 residents need one home and our population continues to grow at over 60,000 residents per year, it’s safe to assume we need roughly 26,000 new units per year. While 2013 seemed to present favorable numbers of new units (10,000 new houses and 12,000 new apartments), 2014 is staring at roughly 7,000 finished & build-able lots, leaving us significantly shy once again. Add that housing supply deficit to those of the past few years (specifically, 2011 had around 7,600 combined units added and 2012 had 13,000), and it’s clear the housing shortage is here for quite some time. When we say there’s “not much new here”, we really mean it
CONCERNS
The growing population presents two major issues that will once again be the focus of local politicians and advocates alike. Traffic concerns were a top story of 2013 highlighted by the breaking ground of the Mopac expansion. But can we really expect one lane in a secondary artery to offer the relief necessary to support the population explosion? Consider the issues with the traffic, the availability and distribution of water to Central Texas might be a bigger long term concern. We’ll be tracking both of these stories closely over the next few years.
LET’S DO THIS
Continued low interest rates coupled with both an increase in household wealth and stronger house values, suggests that 2014 could be the year of the move-up. If you are looking to move up in the Austin metro area, or if the rates and prospects motivate you to get into the game as a home owner, get with me as soon as you can and let’s build the plan for you.

Onward to 2014!

I hope you are enjoying the holiday season. Before the new year arrives, I wanted to thank everyone for helping make our first year at Real Estate in ATX a huge success. 2013 brought more business than we expected and we are super stoked about 2014!
 
Speaking of 2014, expect to hear from me with important updates and opportunities. While you wait for those to kick in, here are some notes for now:
  • Our referral program:
    • You’ll receive your choice of a $10 coffee gift card or a coffee appointment with yours truly simply for providing the name of someone with real estate needs. Personally, I prefer the second option.
    • Additionally, when they close, you’ll receive a $50 gift card to a place of your choosing. 
  • Market snapshot:  We offer a monthly ‘stock report’ on your personal real estate holdings including sold data in your area. Sign up using the link in my signature below or contact me for a more personalized or modified report.
  • Social media:  Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (see buttons below in my signature).  
  • Website:  RealEstateINATX.com allows you to see all ATX residential real estate listed for sale. It also includes a great tool for you and your friends to learn more about different areas of Austin-Metro if new to town.
  • Events:  Please be sure to let us know what events you are attending, especially those involving food and live music!
I can’t even begin to share my excitement for all that 2014 will bring. For me, it’s back to the gym after a year-long absence, more bicycling and less driving, and definitely more time for each of you! 
 
Here’s to an amazing 2014 filled with laughs and full bellies!
 
And don’t forget me when thinking about about Real Estate In ATX! 
-Scott (aka your favorite Realtor)

 

Welcome to the #ATX Summer X-Games

Think Austin’s trendiness is waning? Get over it! Austin welcomes yet another move from California this time in the form of ESPN’s Summer X-Games.

With the first event scheduled for May 15-18 in 2014, and another three years to follow, the alternative sports festival is primed to showcase the best of Austin to millions around the country. Considering the Winter X-Games 2012 brought in 35.4 million viewers (Transworld Business), the move to a new city  for the massively more popular Summer X-Games is sure to challenge if not easily exceed those ratings. 

Add that to the massive worldwide television ratings coming from last year’s inaugural F1 United States Grand Prix at Austin’s own Circuit of the Americas, which saw a not so shabby 547 million viewers worldwide (compared to this year’s Super Bowl’s 111 million viewers), and it’s easy to figure out why the world is falling in love with our fair city.

ACL-Fest, SXSW, F1’s US Grand Prix and now a four year contract with ESPN’s Summer X-Games.

What does this mean for the local housing market? This Realtor believes it’s a clear sign the tide is rising in all major economic and housing statistics and it’s primed to continue for quite some time. And yes, that includes home values and affordability.

Fence sitters and opportunists, contact me now!

The whole world is watching!

Interest rates are up, but what does that mean?

Whether you’re in the industry, in the market to buy, or just watching the economical trends, you’re sure to know that interest rates are up over the past week, and they’re up significantly. January began around 3.25% and slowly rates crept up towards 4%.  This week rates quickly spiked above 4.5%, after the fed announced it’s intentions to scale back on stimulus programs.

From Frank E. Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president, “Higher mortgage rates may dampen some housing market activity but the effect will be muted by the high level of buyer affordability, and home sales should remain strong,”

That couldn’t be more true here locally where real GDP growth, population growth, and employment growth continue to to outpace the national economy. Add to that our state’s operating at a balanced budget, we’re primed to see our “healthy” housing market continue for quite some time.

True, we are facing a shortage of housing inventory in Austin and that’s not going to change for at least 18-36 months.  Our real estate is in high demand, and homes on the market move fast!  Mean & median home prices are increasing at the same rate as the number of home sales.  On top of this, a big percentage of the population is experiencing an increase in affordability– unemployment is decreasing, consumer debt is decreasing while savings/cash reserves are increasing.  Austin’s GDP is growing at the same rate as its population.  New jobs are coming to Austin.  And with high rental rates, buying a house is more affordable for many– especially for newcomers– and those that currently own real estate locally.  It’s easy to see why we are rolling at the healthy pace we are and will for some time!

Don’t be negative or hesitant about the low inventory or the 4-ish% rates.  This is still below the 6% of the not-too-distant past and with various tools, we can alert you as soon as homes hit the market, and sometimes before!

Here in Austin, Texas we are outpacing the economics of the country.  Capitalize on these factors now and call me about buying or selling your home today!

Two articles of interest:

From the Washington Post

From MarketWatch.com

– Scott Lawrence, Realtor

South Austin

South Austin is south of Ben White and features several family-oriented communities with large lots and homes.

Search Homes in South Austin Learn More About South Austin

A New Mopac in 2015

Last week select agents had the opportunity to hear directly from Steve Pustelynk, director of communications for the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. Offering an informative presentation, those in attendance heard a bit on the history of tolling, the current state of commuting in Central Texas and future highway expansions.

Truth be told, Steve has his work cut out for him with future hot-topic projects including the expansion of the Capital of Texas Highway and the Oakhill fly-over.

For now, let’s focus on the Mopac Expansion. To me, the most exciting and likely the most important highway expansion on the horizon, the plans are both innovative and aggressive.

Imagine, from Parmer to Cesar Chavez, with four lanes. The catch is the fourth lane is a variable pricing toll lane for those in need of and/or willing to pay the current rate of that toll. Entrances and exits are at the aforementioned Parmer & Cesar Chavez as well as the usual break in rush hour traffic at 2222. Though the lanes south of 2222 will shrink a bit, the obvious alternative to grabbing resident land, the lanes north of 2222 will remain their current width.

The construction period is not one to fear. With the bulk of the highway work to be completed between the 9pm and 5 am, local commuters should see few interruptions from beginning to end.

For a sneak-peak at what’s in store for Austin commuters, check this video out!

Kudos to Steve and team for a plan that I think most will easily get behind. Here’s to meeting that end of year 2015 goal for the Mopac expansion!

 

Case Shiller Home Price Indices Chart Shows Rising Values!

I love how we get caught up in the “statistic of the day”. To me, it’s simple. Are you interested in home ownership and can you qualify for what you are interested in.

We’ve all watched the interest rates continue to set “record” lows over the past few years and we all know that’s not sustainable. This chart clearly shows home prices are climbing once again.

Locally, prices are climbing even faster. If you are looking but on the fence, it may be time to dive in before prices get out of hand or interest rates finally start that climb back up.

Thanks to Zander Blunt with Prime Lending for sharing this!

 

Zander Graph copy